Alexander Ludwig Trains for the Hit Show 'Vikings'

To become a viking, Alexander Ludwig had to push his body to the limit. Although it didn’t require him to become the jacked Navy Seal he played in the Mark Wahlberg war drama Lone Survivor,  the Canadian actor and brand ambassador of fitness apparel company Respect Your Universe  has always gravitated towards physical roles and trained hard for this one. Check out how Ludwig trained like a prehistoric warrior for his anticipated role in the hit History Channel series Vikings.  

M&F: How did you get involved with Vikings?

Alexander Ludwig: When I was in L.A. finished filming Lone Survivor, I got a call requesting a meeting with the head of the History television department. They told me that they wanted me to be involved with Vikings. I met Travis Fimmel and Katheryn Winnick, we got along great, everything came together and they offered me the role. I ended up watching the show, falling in love with it and it was one of the best decisions of my career. I have grown so much as an actor since being on the show.

Tell us about your character, Bjorn Lothbrok.

Bjorn Lothbrok is the son of Ragnar, the lead of the show. In the first season, Bjorn is a kid and by the second season he has grown into a man. The start of the season is about his personal struggle trying to find his place in the world and reconnecting with his father. His father takes him under his wing because his father and mother wind up saving him at the start of the season. What I love about this is that it’s a true story. Bjorn Lothbrok was one of the most influential Vikings in history. They called him Bjorn Ironside because he was such an exceptional fighter. Nobody could touch him when he was in battle so everybody thought the gods protected him.

What was your training like during filming?

It’s a physical role and I did a lot of fight training with trainers who worked on Troy and other movies. During filming, if I am not on set, I am going to fight training learning how to yield an axe, sword and shield and it’s exhausting. When you’re in those fight scenes, it’s no joke. It’s real. You’re whacking and smacking it out. It’s vicious and I love it. At this point, I was so big it was more about me losing weight. When I first got there, I would row for 2000 meters before starting a weightlifting routine. One training circuit I did is did chin-ups, leg exercises, and dumbbell burpees where I would put 60-pound dumbbells on each side of me and do a burpee with them, which is really good for your core.

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What is the craziest moment that occurred during filming?

In one scene, we were filming the biggest battle of the season. It had just rained the day before and it was raining the day we were filming it. All these horses were running down a hill and crashing with our line of cavalry. The most amazing thing was to see some of these horses are trained to flip over. I was standing right beside this horse that came galloping at me full speed and it flipped over in front of me and crashed into this line of stuntmen. Then, you have to be ballsy enough to not only stay by this horse as it’s kicking but then get back into the scene and start fighting. That was one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced.

What are you favorite types of roles to play?

It’s always fun to do your own stunts. I love the adrenaline rush. When you do a physical role, you get to learn about the stunts and get to do more action packed stuff. Vikings it is not only about the physicality, although it was a plus, it’s about these characters and what they go through. I chose doing that role because I was putting on a Norwegian accent and got to show a lot of range. As a kid, I was always athletic, enjoyed adrenaline and experiencing adventure.